Office work seems to be an unlikely source of health problems. But spending your days sitting or standing takes a toll on your leg veins.
As a vein care specialist, Kishore Arcot, MD, at Memphis Vein Center can give you tips for preventing the problems associated with sitting and standing. He also has extensive experience treating vein conditions with safe, in-office procedures.
Your leg veins work against gravity as they transport blood up your legs and into your abdomen, where the blood continues its journey back to your heart.
To accomplish the task, veins are lined with muscles that help push blood, and valves that keep blood flowing in one direction.
Leg muscles contract when you walk or move. These contractions push against the veins, propelling blood up the leg. Inactivity alone has a negative impact on your veins, but prolonged sitting or standing at work magnifies the problem.
If you don’t use a pedal exerciser under your desk, your leg muscles are inactive while you sit at a desk. Using a standing desk is just as bad if you don’t move your legs while standing.
Beyond the impact of muscle inactivity, prolonged sitting and standing cause other problems: They increase blood pressure inside the veins and slow down blood circulation. As a result, blood can’t flow up your leg. Instead, it accumulates in your vein, weakening and stretching the valves and muscles.
Office work requiring prolonged sitting and standing increases your risk of serious vein problems, including:
Slow blood flow puts you at risk of developing blood clots. Though a clot can develop in any leg vein, the most dangerous ones occur in deep veins in the center of your leg. This condition, deep vein thrombosis (DVT), causes pain, swelling, redness, and warm-feeling skin near the clot.
DVT poses a serious health risk because the clot can break free, travel through your veins, and get stuck in your lungs. This condition is life-threatening if the clot stops blood flow.
Chronic venous insufficiency occurs when one or more valves weaken and stop functioning. The damaged valve lets blood flow backward and go down your leg vein.
The refluxing blood causes two problems. As the backward-flowing blood reaches a working valve, it builds up in the vein. The accumulating blood leads to large, twisted, engorged varicose veins.
As blood accumulates, it significantly increases the blood pressure inside your lower leg vein. The pressure forces fluids out of the veins and into the surrounding tissues, causing skin complications and wounds.
Stasis dermatitis is an inflammatory skin condition causing chronic redness, itching, and scaly skin.
Your skin turns a deep reddish-brown color as pigments from your blood break down and permeate your skin.
Lipodermatosclerosis occurs when your skin becomes thick, hard, and leathery. The area also becomes inflamed, causing pain and itching. This condition can affect your entire lower leg.
Venous stasis ulcers represent a serious complication of chronic venous insufficiency. As fluids leave the veins, they break down your skin and create an open leg ulcer. These shallow, painful ulcers typically appear around your ankle but may affect any part of your lower leg.
The danger of venous stasis ulcers is that they don’t heal on their own. If you don’t seek medical care, the ulcer keeps enlarging, putting you at risk for severe infections.
If you’re worried about the effect of sitting or standing on your veins, or if you already have signs of vein problems, don’t wait to schedule an appointment. Call our Memphis, Tennessee, vein center today or request an appointment online.